06 September, 2006

When Women Will be Kicked out of the Kaaba's sahn

Who said we are in the 21st century?
I have always assumed a negative stance from feminism and thought that just because my right of being is well protected by Islam, and since I haven't fought against any repression, I thought I was well.
The report on the Emirates Today report calling for the segregation of women and men in the Holy Place, the Kaabah caught my attention and gripped my heart. "Plans by the all-male committee overseeing the holy sites would place women in a distant section of the mosque while men would still be able to pray in the key space." "The area is so small and so crowded. So we decided to get women out of the 'sahn' [Kaaba area] to a better place where they can see the Kaaba and have more space," said Osama Al Bar, head of the Institute for Hajj Research.
A first in history, I'll let you ponder on that...
read more on my blog

Source: www.emiratestodayonline.com Emirates Today, August 29, 2006, p.37 Plans to restrict women praying at Makkah

16 comments:

MD said...

I read this piece a few days ago and it really angered me. I've been to Umrah (short pilgrimage) only twice - in 2005 and in 1999.

The 1999 Umrah was one of the best experiences in my life. I got ample time to pray right in front of the Ka'bah and I circled it (Tawaf) so many times. I even touched the door of the Ka'bah.

Yet, in 2005, it was entirely different. I could not pray anywhere because the female supervisors would, literally, shoo us off, saying there are men around. My mother suffers from Arthritis so once when we got a little late for the prayer, she put the prayer mat in front of a shop near the Haram (area of the Ka'bah and the mosque), which was a normal thing for anyone to do because it would get so crowded that the Haram would be packed and there would be an overflow of people outside.

But well, two young Saudi policemen came to us and told us to move the mats and not to pray there. We ignored them and he threatened to move us by force because 'men were around' and we shouldn't be praying there. It was only when other woman joined us and formed a line and prayed together, that they left us alone.

I don't think this should be approved ever. It is the right of every Muslim to pray there and they should stop thinking of the 'men and women' differences because the faithful's neeyah (intentions) are much more pure than checking out guys and gurls in front of the Ka'bah.

DG said...

Sister Proud, please edit the link address of your blog. The address you have put gives error because there is no site with the url http://proudisme.blogger.com/

But when I tried http://proudisme.blogspot.com/ it took me to your blog.

I fully agree with you on this. But I hope it will just remain a proposal & it will never be implemented inshallah.

inquirer said...

"I even touched the door of the Ka'bah."

As a non-Muslim, it is rather intriguing...what does one get from touching the door? What is contained in the Ka'bah that one should actually go there to pray?

Anonymous said...

Dear Proud,

My first reaction to the news was exactly the same as yours. But fortunately I am a jounalist, besides being a muslim so i was in a position to do some research on the subject and it calmed me a lot.

The suggestion to shift the women’s section into the northern part of haram was made by the Haj Research Institute, which is part of the Makkah-based Umm Al-Qura University. The institute has on its board Islamic scholars, researchers, architects, engineers and planners.

The perception in the media that the suggestion has come from deeply conservative elements in Saudi society is certainly wrong. The Haj Research Institute is tasked with the responsibility of coming up with solutions to problems faced by pilgrims in the Haram and other holy sites of Saudi.

The decision has not been taken and the general opinion among Imams is also divided, besides women protesting which is quite natural.

How many times do we get a chance to go visit Kabah. Its is every muslims dream to pray on that holy floor. Our indignation as muslim women is justified.

But please understand that the anti-Islam elements in the world will try to make this sound as if Islam is against women freedom. Our brothers in the committe never meant to isolate us from Kabah, they were just doing their job and trying to find a solution which will make the lives of all the muslims visiting the holy mosque easier.
We as muslim women can protest but we shall not feul the anti-islam debate. The fact that women in Saudi are able to voice their reservation shows that muslim women are not supressed even in the highly conservative society of Saudi.
One Alim (religious scholar in UAE) said to me

"Allah will not bless women any less for praying elsewhere then mataf. It is just like kissing Hajr-e-Aswad. Allah has allowed kissing the stone by action from far away, if one can’t reach the stone physically. People compete to reach the stone, pushing and pulling others in the process. One thing Allah dislikes most is troubling and hurting other human beings, and during the pilgrimage that is especially prohibited.
The rule might only add to protection and convenience of our muslim sisters who are pushed around by over zealous pilgrims during peak rush hours.

The worst thing we can do is take news at its face value, especially when it comes to our religion in todays world.

Muslimah said...

But the religious authorities behind the proposal insist its real purpose is to lessen the chronic problem of overcrowding, which has led to deadly riots during pilgrimages at Mecca in the past.

So, women are a crowd and men aren't?

Anonymous said...

"the anti-Islam elements in the world will try to make this sound as if Islam is against women freedom."

Ah, come on now, just because women are kicked out of the kaaba area and herded over to an area 200 meters away doesn't mean they are third class people. They can still see the rock and its is for their own good, of course.

And so what if the Quran says men can beat their wives or if the hadiths say most people in hell are women, that is for their own good also.

Judging from one of the post above, Mohammed was right. Women are deficient in grey matter - at least one of them.

Protest, write letters, do petitions - it will make no difference. The radicals always win - they have the Quran and hadiths on their side. Sorry to tell you the bad news!

Yes, I would probably be considered one of those evil "anti-Islam" elements mentioned above, but why do they make it so easy for us?

John Kactuz

PS: Does this mean that a woman's pilgrimage is invalid now?

PSS: Muslim women are not third class people, that honor is reserved for us infidels. hey, At least we are above those pigs and monkeys, the jews. Ha!

Anonymous said...

Dear Inquirer,

Muslims believe that the acceptance of Dua (prayer, when you ask something of Allah) depends on our faith in Allah and faith that he will accept our prayers.

Kaabah is the centre of the earth and Allah's house, and thus the holiest place on earth for Muslims. In Islam after performing Hajj one is as pure and rid of sins as the day he was born.
People touch the walls and door of Kabah with reverence and love for Allah. In his house the emotions of a pilgrim borders to spiritual and are so overwhelming that they become hard to contain. People cry with emotions, pray all day long, ask for forgiveness and find inner peace and acceptance of one’s lot. But faith is the key. Faith is the most wonderful thing in the world.
I can’t tell you how blessed a person can feel in Kabah, with faith in his/her heart. Every part of Kabah wall and doors are scared for Muslims and thus touching them and praying while doing so is the most natural thing to do when you are there.

Anonymous said...

Dear Muslimah,

By deadly roits I believe you mean stampede during hajj. However stampede happens usually while stonning Shaitan and never happened in mataf (kabah courtyard or sahn). So their is no cause to take drastic measures like stopping women to pray in mataf.

As you say, women only are not a crowd. I hope the committe can come up with a better solution than this. As there is no way women can come to term with it.

pRoUd said...

(DG, thank you so much for pointing out the broken lionk, fixed it:)
I have been asking people about their reactions and take on this "proposal". As expected, the opinions were polarized, both sides with valid arguments. I agree with mdm umrah and Hajj are the best experience one Mulsim can look forward to, and it is truly thwarted when both male and female officers shoo females in particular away from places. I do realize the huge amount of pressure put on them, and the uncooperative attitudes, but only people who are there will understand this agonizing, humiliating demeanor. When one's sole intention is to o and supplicate to Allah Almighty, and transcend to a purer realm, these agents only serve to bring you back and keep you rooted to the groundof reality. the shoving and pushing is beyong imagination and contradicts the whole point of the hajj and umrah. I think that the people themselves should be made more aware on the practices of a muslim in the holy place of the Kaabah, but also, the officers should be more tactful in handling their"situations". I'm praying that Allah will grant me the opportunity to be among the blessed ones and have a pass, I'm dying to gofor Umrah, and I can't fathom my reaction if I was denied the right to pray in th sahn or next to maqam Ibrahim.

pRoUd said...

Anonymous, you bring a very powerful stance. I want you to know that I was exteremely hesitant and pertubed as to publish or not publish the post, to keep it only on my blog or bring it to attention. I have finally decided to post it (evidently) for a number of reasons.

As for for your fortunate luck for "being" a journalist, I will choose not to comment, and further not confine myself by definition of what i do for a living, but will mention that I'mfortunate that Allah has blessed me to be human being, and therefore bear a thinking and vibrant mind with which to choose and decide.I am a seeker of the truth, and therefore research is part of me. And I will not dare formulate even an opinion without understanding any matter in my hands. For example, I was among the first (i hope) to respond to Oprah's infamous allegations against atrocities done to the women in middle east, and asked her not to generalize one incident of only one woman. Furthermore, I'm always cautious not to take things "out of context" and look deeper into te history before judging. In fact, even, judging, a verb i rarely fall on in my life. For instance, the world raved upon the fact that women in Saudi Arabia are not permitted to drive, and I said if only you people knew of the driving conditions in Saudi you wouldn't have been surpised. No woman, i think, in the current situation would want to drive.
However, this is another, totally different matter. I fear of the "saudinizing" of the Kaaba. As I said the Hajj Research Institute has done commendable work throughout the years, but this one may revoke all their efforts. My concern is that, in due time, they might as well just order women not to come at all. In my opinion, women must be respected in all regards, and if a woman comes to pray in a place like the sahn, the men should have the enough decency to give her the way.

I have not brought up this topic with the sole purpose of defaming Islam, on the contray, hadn't we been blessed by Islam, as women, we would be talking of the dark ages, of slavery and of opression. I owe everything that I am, my courage and eloquence, to Islam, and only Islam. I have no intention of fueling the anger and resentment towards Islam, but there is a need for more understanding, and for women to take their places, as they did when the Prophet was alive. Women led, preached and even went to war. She was never secuded from the public life and many her efforts are etched in history.
So, if the intention was really to protect women, as you mention, form overzealous men, why not allocate equal times and oppotunities for both?
I often wonder why is it in Islam, men and women are segregated in most forms of life, but whenit comes to Hajj and Umrah, there is no text to that? A women, furthermore, is not to cover her face in the Kaaba while praying or doing the tawaf or any of the manasik alhajj wal umrah. It is in my view, that when you come to Allah's house, that you come clean, pure and in abandonment of everything else, human greed, lust and other crude and vulgar acts. It is then, I ask the Research Institute of Hajj to protect me from those crude men and women who find themselves in the holy place of Allah.

inquirer said...

Thanks for the responses. I do still have questions, tho. For example, if The Kaaba is God's house, does this mean that God lives in a specific location on earth? Then this would explain why Muslims turn towards Mecca when praying. I used to always wonder about this. Of course it would also explain why people go for hajj and umrah.

But of course there are many Muslims who are too poor to visit God's house. One feels sorry for them. Also, what you said about faith was very inspiring. But can this faith not be used to pray from one's home? Is it really necessary to go to a particular place in order to experience God?

Also, as you mention that people who perform hajj are as pure and sinless as on the day they were born, so what is it that takes away their sin? So is a poor person from a developing country who cannot perform hajj, will his sin remain?

One finds that some of those people return from hajj and go back to being exactly what they were before they went there. So they are heaping up sin again. If they die then without going again for hajj, they will die in their sin, and their sins will not have been wiped away. Will they gain entry into heaven in this state? So many questions remain.

DG said...

Inquirer, let me clear one misconception here. Hajj is not compulsory on poor. It is an obligation only for people who can afford it & that too only once in a lifetime.

Secondly, you don't go to Hajj to clean your this year's sins & then once you are back, continue with those sins again. This is not the purpose of Hajj.

No one has a guarantee that once he goes for Hajj, all his past sins are wiped away.

"Not all who make Hajj will have their Hajj accepted. As Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said to Mujahid when he said, “How many Hajjis!” “How few. Rather say, how many riders!” (Musannaf `Abdur-Razzaq 8836)"

Read the full article here

pRoUd said...

Dear Inquirer,

"if The Kaaba is God's house, does this mean that God lives in a specific location on earth?"

The Kaaba is indeed Allah's holy place on Earth. It does not, however, mean its a place of residence. Allah, we believe is everywhere.
وَلِلّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّواْ فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللّهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ (115)
115 To God belong the East and the West: Whithersoever ye turn, there is God's countenance. For God is all-Embracing, all-Knowing. (surat albaqarah)

Allah Almight is the creator of this universe, essentially everything inche belongs to Him. But the Kaaba in specific is a sacred place. There is much debate on where Adam p.b.u.h. was landed when he was banished from Heaven, but for sure, Ibrahim/Abraham p.b.u.h. was the first to build the Kabaa (it is also believed that the Kaaba was first built by the Angels prior to the decsend of Adam p.b.u.h. and Ibrahim p.b.u.h. restored it) Long before Islam the Kaaba did have its religious status and pilgrimage was a fact of life. in fact, someone from Yemen called Abraha hailed a war with the intention of destroying the Kaaba in attempt to make people make their pilgrimage to a temple that he built. He was defeated enormously as delineated in surat alfeel (the elephant) by birds sent from Allah with sharp edged stones. Also, one of the most sacred things on the Kaaba is the black stone/alhajar alaswad which is NOT to be worshipped but only touched. it rich in history, was first placed by IBrahim p.b.u.h. and then also by the prophet Mohammed p.b.u.h. It is believed to have decsended from Heaven.

"Then this would explain why Muslims turn towards Mecca when praying"
An interesting question, it is interesting to know that before Islam and at the initial stages of Islam, people of faith turned to bait al maqdes in jeruselm, and then the Prophet and his few companions silently wished to have their own "qibla" which distinguished the Muslim, and Allah granted them the wish by ordering all Muslims to face Mecca when praying. So now every Muslim faces Mecca when praying in unison.

Also, worth mentioning that in Islam three mosques that Musilms go in pilgremage for, only three, almasjid alharam, where the single prayer is rewarded a hundred thousand times more than it would be elsewhere,
al masjid alnabawey, in al madina, where the prayer equals a thousand elsewhere
and almasjid alaqsa where the prayer equals five hunderd.
وعن أبي الدرداء رضي الله عنه قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : الصلاة في المسجد الحرام بمائة ألف صلاة ، والصلاة في مسجدي بألف صلاة ، والصلاة في بيت المقدس بخمسمائة صلاة

"Also, as you mention that people who perform hajj are as pure and sinless as on the day they were born, so what is it that takes away their sin? So is a poor person from a developing country who cannot perform hajj, will his sin remain"
another interesting perspective. Islam is a belief based on intentions and deeds that support the intentions. I hope this will not be misleading and will be fully comprehended, in Islam a thought is rewarded, for example if you truly had the intention of doing a good deed, only intend to do: you are rewarded. you are also rewarded when you actually do it. BUT if you have a bad intention and NEVER do it, you dont get punished for it! So for a religion based on good intention, if you intend to go to hajj, Allah will enable it for you by providing you with opportunities. A story comes to mind in this regard and it is told that a man had had saved all his life, and finally was able to afford to go to hajj, when the jihad was called and everyone gave in all what they had, he was advised to chip in and gave everything away. He went home saddened at the prospect of not being able to go. He was comforted by the Prophet who told him that Allah knowns everything. Later when people came back from pilgrimage everyone came to bid him well and congratulate him. Everyone saw him there! But how, it was his good intention that Allah sent an angel to go on the pilgrimage in his place..The hajj is compulsory only for those who can afford it, mentally, physically and financially. But look around you, there is no one who will not be ready to lend a hand and donate money in order for someone else to go. Hajj is to be performed ONCE, although if you can afford it you can go on more times, but it is advocated that if you have the means to give to someone else.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kactuz (or is it Cactus)

I may be lacking in grey matter, but you seem to lack in manners, and badly.
You seem to me like a person who, when reads a book, watch a show, or meet a person, always looks for something negative that you can criticize on or splash dirt around.
I don’t know about your life but at least your manners will improve if you start looking for positive points in things.

p.s Also read indepth on a faith you love to defame. I am sure you believe in something too..

inquirer said...

The answers begin to raise even more questions, so I think I will ask no more for the moment (at least in this thread).

Examples:

Prayer rewarded 100,000 times in one mosque, 1000 times in another, 500 in a third...what has the mosque got to do with it? Is it the buidling or the location?

What is to be gained by touching the black stone? If the stone itself is not an object of worship, why bother with it?

Turning towards Mecca just for the sake of having somewhere to turn to? Just to distinguish Muslims from others? If God is everywhere, what does it matter which side you turn?

An angel goes on pilgrimage on behalf of someone else? If he's going to get the credit for something he didn't do, just because he earnestly desired to do it, why not just give him the credit anyway? Isn't the angel's trip rendered somewhat meaningless?

As I said, the answers raise even more questions...

pRoUd said...

Dear Inquirer,

Your questions leading to more questions are just a natural progression I think in a thougtful mind. I really dont mind answering, but as you know we often come to a corner of no answers, or perhaps not the answers we want to hear.

"Prayer rewarded 100,000 times in one mosque, 1000 times in another, 500 in a third...what has the mosque got to do with it? Is it the buidling or the location?"
Location, perhaps: in Islam these are the ONLY three sacred mosques that Allah has mentioned in which the rewrad is greater. As to the numbers, it is figuritive. For example, the one 'hasana'/good deed is multiplied by 10 and henceforth. these three mosqus have their special places because:
1. Al Masjid Al Haram in Mecca: the Kaaba is situated there, and the Kaaba was built by prophet Ibrahim, and has a very rich religous background, also the Prophet Mohammed was born there. Also, it is the muslim's 'qibla'
2. Al Masjid Al Nabawey in Al Madinah Almunawarah: was constructed by the prophet Mohammed and in which his grave situated.
3. Al Masjid AlAqsa in Jeruselm, i is the first 'qibla' and the prophet Mohammed in an incident called "al isra wal mi'raj' prayed with all the prophets there.
these are sacred places on Earth and people in them attend to proper conduct.

"Turning towards Mecca just for the sake of having somewhere to turn to? Just to distinguish Muslims from others? If God is everywhere, what does it matter which side you turn?"
also applicable here is why do muslims pray at one exact time, fe times a day. i was waiting for the prayer to be called oneday, and told my friends (nonmuslims) only few minutes are left coz they were in a hurry, and said "what difference does it make?" In Islam, all the difference. Islam is a very constructive religion, it teaches self-discipline and order at all times. there are many many reasons i can think of, ut basically if everyone was to o what they wanted when they wanted, Chaos would rule, dont you think? I'm not sure of what religious bakground you are, so that i can make anologies, butyou can think of it in this simple way" Why do streets have trafic lights? Also, why is there one direction for cars to go? In a similar fashion by being directed to the same place, a type of spiritual enrgy is harnessed. To me, for example, there is no otehr majistic and glorier scene that when the muslims in the Kaaba all line up, rounds after round, all facing te Kaaba in unision, performing the same moves at teh same time! a breathtaking view.

"An angel goes on pilgrimage on behalf of someone else? If he's going to get the credit for something he didn't do, just because he earnestly desired to do it, why not just give him the credit anyway? Isn't the angel's trip rendered somewhat meaningless?"
The story has a moral to it, that if you really have the strong intention, it will be granted to you, one way or another. The angel's trip rendered meaningless: how then would the otehr people know that the person did go on pilgrimage? Also there is a big distinction to only dream, and go out and do everything possible to achieve that dream. Recall, this chap has had saved ALL his life in order to go to Hajj, and the only reason he didnt go, is because he GAVE UP all his savings for another, bigger deed and that is preparing soldiers for jihad. So its not like you day dream and then all of a sudden there it is. You haev to work for it. For example, getting up late at night to do some prayers is considered a very high deed in Islam, so if you had the intention to get up in the middle/late night to pray, and couldnt you still get the reward provided you worked for it by retiring early to sleep/putting ur alarm on or telling someone else to wake you up.

I would recommend you to read a book by Murad Hoffman, the former German ambassador to Morrocco, who write about his journey to Hajj, in a book called: A Journey to Mecca,
http://www.astrolabe.com/product/1300/Journey_to_Makkah.html?sid=901ec95d5b4c1b9b3818ece3809a134d&sid=901ec95d5b4c1b9b3818ece3809a134d

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